Religious Studies



Malebranche's natural theodicy and the incompleteness of God's volitions


ANDREW PESSIN a1
a1 Department of Philosophy, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH 43022–9623

Abstract

The causal power of Malebranche's God is a function of the content of His will. Yet despite its significance for Malebranche, little exegetical attention has been paid to his notion of volitional content. In this paper I develop the notion of an ‘incomplete’ volition, note that Malebranche accepted and used something like it, and then examine Malebranche's natural theodicy in its light. This yields a new interpretation in which, unlike previous interpretations, Malebranche actually succeeds in reconciling his seemingly incompatible beliefs that: (1) God alone is causally responsible for all natural states of affairs; (2) God's power is His will; (3) God wills to produce only goods; and yet (4) genuine evils exist.